Thought you would enjoy this project students of Larry Silverberg, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at North Carolina State University took on to calculate Santa's journey this year:
Santa has to deliver gifts to around 200 million children spread over 200 million square miles. Because each household has 2.67 children, there are about 75 million homes to visit and the average distance between homes is about 1.63 miles, Santa needs to cover 122 million miles.
To cover that distance in 24 hours on Christmas, Mr. Claus’s sleigh would need to travel at a whopping average speed of 5,083,000 mph. Silverberg argues that the feat is possible because the sleigh would have to travel 130 times more slowly than the speed of light, which is 300 million meters per second, or 669,600,000 mph. Because something already moves that quickly, it would be difficult, but not impossible, for Santa to travel at 5,083,000 mph.
Traveling at 5,083,000 mph seems a bit fast for a plump old man so Silverberg and his students found a more realistic scenario: relativity clouds. Relativity clouds, based on relative physics, allow Santa to stretch time like a rubber band and give him months to deliver gifts, while only a few minutes pass for the rest of us. (Silverberg theorizes that Santa's understanding of relative physics is far greater than our own.)
Photo Credit Santa Claus village in Rovaniemi, Lapland, Arctic Circle